Then again, given the Great Shatner/Takei feud, there's got to be room for a quickie picture of the new-fangled Kirk/Sulu.
Of course, it would make little sense if I didn't give up a special effects clip. And no, it ain't Big E.
Yeah, the Cats lost tonight. In tragic fashion. The Senators will sleep like babies knowing they only had to show up for 20 minutes. But I digress. The weekend approaches.
The Senators earned this one. They found a way to win, which we have yet to do. Let's just play one period, and get it over with. No tease beyond the first two periods. The third rightly belongs to Ottawa.
Not piling on a dead horse here, but this was ugly. Doesn't help that the Cats were called for a penalty - and a dicey one, at best - with less than four minutes to go. It's always that way. We are - based on past performance - predestined to suffer this type of face-slap. How can anyone argue it?
It was fun while the lead lasted. To the Panthers: nice 40 minutes. To the Sens: nice 20 minutes. It's that simple. More to come tomorrow.
To the faithful: a lot of work has yet to be done.
There are two story lines here, both of which are realistic: the Panthers are dominating the Senators, spending bountiful minutes in the offensive zone. Or, the Panthers are the beneficiaries of a slacking Ottawa squad, keeping the visitors in their zone. Either could be true.
No matter. The score remains 1-0, though not for a lack of effort on the part of Craig Hartsburg's Sens.
David Booth is on fire, throwing his body and going the extra inch to make the play or keep the puck within his team's grasp. No goals yet, but he is most definitely not pleased with his scoring output since the second game of the season.
$22M Daniel Alfredsson has been quiet, but for a very few offensive outbursts.
The question remains: what is going on in Ottawa? This may change over the next 20 minutes, but it begs discussion. The third period will lay it all on the table.
There was nothing redeeming about this game from a Florida perspective. At the very least, it wasn't two points surrendered to the East.
That's all from TLB for tonight. Glad I'm not on the Miami Air charter back to South Florida after this one.
Notes: Predicting a Belak-Janssen heavyweight matchup, if Boynton ends up going off the deep end. Either way, Boynton or not, something's got to give...and the options are running thin. Can a fight revive the Cats' chances? Period will begin with Ballard in the box. Panthers' PP absolutely, positively sucks. There is nothing even remotely scary about it. Pass here. Fake there. Out to Jay-Bo. In to Stillman. Completely by the book. This MUST improve now or the season is dead before the 10th game. As for the penalty kill, don't get me started...
A sloppy and tired start by the Cats, showing every bit of the mileage and action the past five days have brought them. Key word: Turnovers. Couldn't keep possession and passes were ill-fated. They settled down a bit after the first seven minutes or so, and an unremarkable performance by both clubs ensued. The goal wasn't Andy's fault; a right-circle pass to Tkachuk in the crease. The veteran went behind his back, instead of shooting, placing the puck directly on the tape of Brad Boyes, to the left of the goal, who scored into an empty net. Anderson, defending the right crease, had no help thanks to the nifty move by Tkachuk. A sweet play for the Blues.
Notes: Blues third-string goalie Ben Bishop is in net for St. Louis. He's 6'-7". Off skates. Gargantuan. Looks like the Cloverfield lizard in front of a soccer net. Tallest goaltender in the league. Ever. Noah Welch is suddenly the veteran on his defensive pairing with the loss of Cory Murphy, which follows the loss of Bryan McCabe. If I were Jason Garrison, I'd make certain my medical insurance is in good standing. Speaking of Garrison, he looks good. The leading scorer in Rochester, he's looking solid and confident. Getting power play time - on the point - as well. So far a wise addition. Could this guy end Jassen Cullimore's hopes of a return to Florida? Thanks to FSN, we learned that before Garrison tonight, the number 52 had never been used.
The expected collapse following the first goal against? Nah. Three Panther goals in the same frame made it clear the Cats were gamers, at least early.
A frantic second period, resembling post-season hockey - a rarity between West and East teams during the regular season - proved the folks from Florida were not only hanging on with a 3-3 score, but ready to take charge, as evidenced by a late Cory Stillman goal (2nd of the night, 5 on the year).
San Jose threw everything at Tomas Vokoun after the 15 minute mark of the third in what appeared to be a Loss In Progress. We've seen many LIP's over the past few years. However, the Cats kept cool, kept focused, and somehow also kept the puck out of their net. The Florida crease resembled Penn Station at 5:00 pm, with Sharks buzzing and swiping at anything resembling a black disk or blue squalus. The result for San Jose? Nuthin'. Not because of luck, be it good or bad, but due to the Panthers' willingness to destroy everything in teal they found in their way.
Good stuff, folks. Off with the teal, on to the Blues tomorrow. Yikes...Tkachuk? So what. Where's the nearest buffet?
There's been a sense of playoff hockey to this, at least since the last half of the first period. Lots of back-and-forth action. None of that dump-and-chase crap we are so used to.
Stillman has two goals, Ballard's collected three assists. It doesn't hurt - sometimes - bringing in new blood. Doesn't always work (witness Stumpel, Josef), but when it clicks, the results are unmistakable. The Panthers should have rolled over following the SH'er (much less the first PP goal), but instead of burying their heads, they have risen up and stood their ground. Awesome.
A few notes: a very rare Bouwmeester turnover - in the defensive zone - led to the shorthanded goal. Ballard has been - once again - everywhere. He's averaging better than a point per game. Olli something-or-other used to do that. With no defensive abilities. Not to mention The Beach's consistency and back-breaking checking and point shot. We've gotten a superb return on that deal so far. A league-ordered wave-off of a presumed Sharks PP goal will be the talk of the pundits over the next few days due to the final ruling (no-goal due to a distinct kicking motion)from the NHL's "War Room" in Toronto. I'm biased but I've gotta be honest here: it was a goal. And it didn't take a committee dissecting it to find the truth.
End-to-end action leads into the third. Let's do it.
Not a lot of notes circulating the web in regard to tonight's matchup featuring San Jose at the BAC, but here we go:
The Miami Herald profiles the positive situation Cats' goaltending coach Pierre Groulx finds himself in with his soldiers. Also from GR, the head-pounding stat of the day: "Florida hasn't beaten San Jose since Feb. 9, 2000". Geez. I had just days prior turned 29. A lifetime ago and half a world away. Man.
The garden-variety game preview, found on both clubs' home pages, is posted here.
In other news, former Panther and current Leafs' defenseman Mike Van Ryn vaporized into the sideboards at TDBanknorthShawmutFleetGardenCenter powered by WebsterBank. That's in Boston! Milan Lucic - or Cam Neely minus the mounds of scar tissue - was soonafter witnessed running toward the waterfront with a glass-splintered battering ram.
A rousing 3-1 victory on the road, topped by an effort that is increasingly becoming the norm for "Andy". Didn't see the game, caught it on NHL radio (and I'm really liking the interface they employ). I did hear "The Save" late in the third; it brought the Ottawa broadcasters out of their seats. Check the video here, and The Miami Herald's coverage here (and it's George Richards' A-Game on this one):
"In previous seasons, one could have counted on a furious comeback by the home team, bet the farm Ottawa would get two quick goals, send the game into overtime and win it there."
Yes, I would have. Indeed, I pretty well expected it last night. Good effort, good coaching, no letdown. A big moral win, and a gargantuan showstopper by Anderson, earning him Third Star of the Night honors over at Puck Daddy.
A couple of quick notes and links as well:
- Panthers' defenseman Noah Welch's unusual donation is discussed by Michael Farber at SI.com.
- Update your favorites list: James Mirtle's blog has moved, evolved, and been reborn as From The Rink (dot com). A must read each day, but you all knew that.
Had a bit of tough news just prior to the game, so bear with me as the day goes on; gonna be lacking the usual updates, but tomorrow we'll be back with the expected pain and doubt.
Notes: They kept their composure! Granted, the Isles are not yet one of the more fright-inspiring clubs - at least among opposing teams, to say nothing of their fans - but the Cats have never in the past decade been known for their ability to stay cool in the latter half of games they have a lead in. Kudos to Pete DeBoer for keeping the troops oiled; the oft-expected meltdown ceased to appear. That's all coaching. A LARGE challenge looms on Monday. More tomorrow.
Notes: Cats keeping the momentum going with stronger posession play in each zone. Much more fluid and strategic. Isles continue to be frustrated, still taking penalties, hence the Stillman tally. Ballard remains in the running for "Best Bouwmeester Lookalike". Radek Dvorak has had more odd-man rushes than at any point in the last five years of his time in the league. Looks phenomenal, except for the not-scoring part. Still waits too long to shoot. Dubbing him "Dvolesz".
Play has been mostly confined to NY end. Superstar-to-be Kyle Okposo for the Isles has been strong and making his presence known with little support. DP settling down. Vokoun not tested this period. NY opens the third on the PP. Can't imagine where we might be without Bouwmeester. This cannot be over-emphasized.
Notes: Panthers look much more poised than Thurday. Shots appear a bit more focused. DePietro shaky - lots of rebounds - in first start since March. Power play absolutely sucks (0-3). Vokoun awake. Better crowd than against Minny. No real physical stuff yet. Cats shooting. A lot. Not necessarily dead-on, but releasing. Ballard is the mini-Bouwmeester; all over the ice, slick moves on the PP, crisp passing. Hitting and board-work has increased over Thursday. Isles not without some pressure in Florida zone, couple of hairy moments. Can't get over Vokoun's tendency to rise slowly following a drop to the ice, even after a year of exposure. The primary word there is "exposure". Ballard and The Beach have obvious chemistry from three-plus years together. Jokinen trade not only supplied a good pair of D-men; it supplied a defensive line. Isles wwill start second on the PP.
See the Panthers in their morning glory, as doors to the BAC will open - free - to the public at 10:00 am (yes...a few hours from now!), for an open skate session. The Islanders' session will follow soon afterward, also open to Joe Plumber.